About Me

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Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Spring in the Fox Forest & Gleason Falls


Photographic Treasures in Hillsborough, New Hampshire
It is always exciting to find new places to explore and photograph in my corner of New England.  This spring I have discovered the Fox Forest which features a wide variety of New Hampshire habitat.  The added bonus is that the forest is located in Hillsborough, New Hampshire which has many other photographic locations, including a famous collection of stone arch bridges and dramatic waterfalls.

 The Fox Forest
The Caroline A. Fox Research and Demonstration Forest (Fox Forest) is a 1445 acre demonstration and research forest in

Fox Forest Headquarters
Hillsborough, New Hampshire.  It was donated to the state in 1933 by Caroline Fox, who had summered on the property for many years.  Miss Fox had a strong interest in forest management and directed that the forest should be used for research on the management of New Hampshire’s forests and other natural resources.  That work continues today through the Henry Baldwin Forest Education Center and currently includes assessment of timber harvesting in New Hampshire, forest sampling studies, regeneration research for white pine and red oak, uneven-aged management research and growth and yield studies.

 In addition to research areas, the Fox Forest offers to visitors  25 miles of trails through a widely a varied ecosystem.   Habitats range from peat bogs to virginal forests and oak covered ridges.  A marsh on the south side of the forest is the home of Black Gum trees that are estimated to be 400-500 years old.  The trails are well marked and accompanied by detailed maps and descriptions of the native treasures. 

Early Spring Tour
I was introduced to Fox Forest early this spring by Kristen Smith of Wicked Dark Photography.  On our visit, we explored parts of the north side of the forest down to the Mud Pond.  We saw many ferns raising their heads to the sun, but only a few blooms, being a bit early for the best show.  We did find a few early blooming Trillium.  I am a rank amateur when it comes to plant identification, so it was great to shadow Kristen through the
Mud Pond
forest. She has a remarkable knowledge of the flora, but as she named obscure plant after obscure plant, I began to suspect that she was just making the names up.  I would surely never know!  Mud Pond is an interesting destination.  Seen from a walkway extending to the edge of the pond there is a wide variety of peatland flora enclosing the the central pond. It was a lovely day in the forest and a chance to learn about a new location for further exploration.  I decided I had to come back to explore the forest later in the spring season and I returned last week. 

Wicked Dark Photographer


A Return Visit
On my second visit I followed the Ridge Trail to the Black Gum

Swamp Trail
Marsh on the south side of the forest. This was another day to focus primarily on macro photography of the flowers and emerging ferns.   It was a lovely warm and sunny day, a great time to be outside and terrible weather to try to capture wild flowers.  I slowly walked the trails looking for blooms that were covered by the forest shade, but where the bright contrasty light was unavoidable I used a small diffuser to soften the illumination.  The important thing about using a diffuser is to position it as close to the subject as possible without intruding on the frame.  This allows the light to softly wrap around the subject.  On occasions I was able to use my body to block the light, but this would have worked much better if I had a partner to provide the necessary portable shade.  It is always important to watch for distracting backgrounds in macro photographs and this is especially difficult when the backgrounds are
White Star
illuminated by the bright natural light.  Despite the challenges I was able to get some interesting images of flowers and ferns. The Fox Forest is a wonderful place to discover and photograph the special features of the New England woodlands.  I look forward to returning in all the seasons.

Painted Trillium

Gleason Stone Arch Bridge and Falls
Being in Hillsborough my mind naturally turned to flowing water. The town has a wonderful collection of stone bridges traversing a variety of tumbling brooks.  Of these my favorite is the Gleason Bridge  which crosses Beard Brook and Gleason Falls.  The bridge is a classic dry-laid stone bridge which is held together through the geometry of its stones, without any concrete.  Stone arch bridges are always fascinating, but what makes the Gleason Bridge special is that it spans a cascading waterfall. 

Given the recent rain, I knew that the waterfall would be dramatic, but as I suspected the bright mid afternoon sunlight was spotlighting the cascades.  The brilliant light contrasted starkly with

Beard Brook
the shaded banks and made it impossible to get the long exposures required to soften the appearance of the flowing water.  I tried combining my polarizer with a neutral density filter but high contrast was still an issue.  I tried a graduated ND filter but had difficulty positioning it to get a smooth effect.  I considered using multi-image HDR techniques, but I tend to go crazy when I try to combine HDR with focus stacking.  In the end my best technique was patience.  There were a very few small clouds skittering by and I settled in waiting for the few seconds of localized overcast that they provided.  I framed my composition and adjusted the focus so I could grab the key images during the brief curtains of softer light.  Although the swarms of  black flies did their best to chase me away, I was able to catch a few nice images both below and above the bridge.  I especially liked the small clutch of flowers clinging to the rocks next to the roaring Brook.


A beautiful New England forest, a classic stone arch bridge and waterfall, all in all a nice day.  I scurried home to upload my pictures and treat my insect bites.


Fox Forest is located in Hillsborough, New Hampshire
Directions: On Rte. 202/9, take the exit for Hillsborough and Fox Forest. From the lights in the center of Hillsborough, take Center Road northwest about 2 miles to the parking lot on the right at the headquarters of the Caroline A. Fox Research and Demonstration Forest.


Gleason Falls in Hillsborough 

Directions:  From Route 9, take the exit to Route 202 South for Hillsborough.  Take a right on Main Street and then shortly another right onto Beard Road.  The road follows Beard Brook north passing one stone bridge on the right which spans the Brook to Jones Road.  Continue on Beard Road and a short distance further on the dirt road you will pass over the Gleason Stone Arch Bridge.  There is a small turn-off on the right just before the bridge.


Jeffrey Newcomer


  1. In a previous lifetime, I lived right across the street from Fox Forest. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  2. Great series, Jeff. Me? Make things up? Nevah!
    I love the Fox Forest and glad you went back to see more of it.